The evolutionary significance of interspecific aggression as a factor in speciation was tested among three chromosome forms of the actively speciating fossorial rodent Spalax ehrenbergi in Israel. Laboratory experiments testing intra- and interspecific aggression were conducted on 48 adult animals from 10 populations comprising three chromosome forms with 2n = 52, 58 and 60. Twelve agonistic, motivational conflict, and territorial behavioral variables were recorded during 72 combats involving homo and heterogametic encounters between opponents. Analysis of the data matrix was carried out by the nonmetric multivariate Smallest Space Analysis (SSA-II). The results indicate that aggression patterns involving agonistic conflict and territorial variables, are higher in heterogametic encounters than in homogametic ones; and aggression is higher between contiguous chromosome forms (2n = 58-60, and 2n = 52-58) than between noncontiguous ones (2n = 52-60). Both suggest that high interspecific aggression appears to be adaptively selected at final stages of speciation in mole rats as a premating isolating mechanism which reinforces species identification and establishes parapatric distributions between the evolving species.
|Number of pages
|Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
|Published - 1975
ASJC Scopus subject areas